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Mikel Arteta confirms fresh fitness concern but Granit Xhaka could return vs Everton

Is England callup around the corner for Emile Smith Rowe?

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has provided a fitness update on two players ahead of the Premier League encounter against Everton on Monday.

The Gunners recently suffered a 3-2 Premier League defeat to Manchester United on the road, and missed out on the chance to break into the top four.

They won’t have another opportunity to go fourth tomorrow. However, they can reduce the gap to West Ham to one point with a return to winning ways.

Ahead of the game at Goodison Park, Arteta has confirmed that Smith Rowe is a doubt following his 70th minute substitution on Thursday night.

The Spaniard added that the £25.2 million-rated attacker has some discomfort, and may have a late fitness test ahead of the Merseyside trip.

Arteta told Arsenal.com: “He had some discomfort during the game and we decided to take him off. He’s been evolving well over the last few days, so we have to wait until tomorrow to see how he is.”

Meanwhile, there is also good news on the fitness front with Granit Xhaka close to making his comeback from injury.

The Switzerland international has been out since late September after a knee ligament injury, but he has returned to full training ahead of schedule.

Having already had a few training sessions with the team, Arteta has refused to rule out the prospect of the midfielder making the matchday squad.

He added: “This week he has progressed again to a different level, and tomorrow we will assess how he is, have a conversation with him and decide when is the best moment to start to give him some exposure in games.”

The Gunners have struggled in the last three trips to Goodison Park, picking up just one point in the progress.

However, they should go into tomorrow’s meeting as potential favourites. The Toffees are winless in seven league games, and are missing their main striker in Dominic Calvert-Lewin through injury.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s form has been a worry up front in recent weeks, but judging by Arteta’s pre-match comments, the club captain should be fancied to lead the line again.

Xhaka could be eased into action off the bench. Smith Rowe’s potential absence could pave the way for Gabriel Martinelli to start alongside Bukayo Saka in the wide midfield positions.

The Brazilian has been in fine form of late with a goal and an assist against Newcastle and United respectively. He has a good chance to replicate the showing to cement his place in the XI.

Stats from Transfermarkt.com

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